Your 4 Season Guide To Adventure in Northeastern Ontario

Polar bears, waterfalls, and fall colours!

Whether you visit in winter, spring, summer, or fall, Northeastern Ontario has something to offer everyone, in every season. Exploring this phenomenal area is a must, as some of the best restaurants, outdoor activities, and nightlife are nestled right in this region. Before you pack your bags, pick a season and discover everything Northeastern Ontario has to offer.

Spring in Mattawa

When the ice begins to melt and spring rolls around, Mattawa is the place to be. Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park, located on the historic Mattawa River, offers winding hiking trails set amongst stunning scenery. 

Take a journey back in time by renting a replica of an authentic voyageur canoe and paddling down the river with a tour guide, who explains the Mattawa river’s extensive history as an integral part of the region’s fur trade. No trip to Mattawa is complete without a visit to the Mattawa Museum. Immerse yourself in the town’s historical heritage and cultural customs with pristinely preserved art, artifacts, and prized documentation of long ago. Complete your trip back in time with Le Voyageur Restaurant and Lounge, aptly named to pay homage to the region’s history. This restaurant serves up incredibly authentic Thai food and has plenty of options for vegetarian guests.

Under an hour from Mattawa is North Bay. Lake Nipissing is the crown jewel of North Bay and certainly the place to be in this charming town. Because it’s a shallow lake, Lake Nipissing warms up quickly on hot summer days, meaning it’s great for swimming and other water activities. During the day, strap on your sneakers or hiking boots and hike Duchesnay Falls Trails, a beautiful and adventurous trailway that features multiple waterfalls as you move farther into the trails. 

When it’s time to grab a bite to eat, be sure to check out The White Owl Bistro, offering local farm-to-table gourmet prepared food right in North Bay. For somewhere to lay your head after a day out on the water, Terrace Suites is a great option. Every room has a fireplace for an authentic experience—and the on-site restaurant receives rave reviews.

Summer on Manitoulin Island

Located on Lake Huron, the largest freshwater lake in the world, Manitoulin Island is a destination summer hotspot for soaking up sun on the water. In fact, Manitoulin Island is so jam-packed with things to do, it’s recommended you stay an extended weekend or even a full week. The island’s famous Cup and Saucer adventure trail involves ladders and rock scrambling. It’s a top hike in the region for its many challenges, all made worth it by the stunning views you’re awarded at the end. If the Cup and Saucer trail leaves you hungry for more, Bebamikawe Memorial Trail and Lewis Twins Peak Hiking Trail are two of the island’s best kept secrets.

When it’s time to rest your legs, hop on a North Channel Cruise, a small, family-owned business that provides lunch, dinner, and sunset cruises that showcase some of the most spectacular spots on the island. When night falls, stay at My Friends Inn, and in the morning go lighthouse-hopping to check out some of the seven historic lighthouses scattered across the island.

Fall in Temiskaming Shores

As the season transitions, scope out the foliage in Northeastern Ontario’s Temiskaming Shores,  home to Haileybury, New Liskeard and North Cobalt, otherwise known as the tri towns. The tri towns provide a beautiful backdrop year-round; however, this is especially true when the leaves change color. Start your adventure by journeying to Devil’s Rock, a granite escarpment over Lake Temiskaming that rises a staggering 300 feet above the lake. Devil’s Rock extends equally as far underwater, making this cliff a massive natural wonder you’ve got to see to believe.

Check out Cobalt Mining Museum for insight into the region’s long history of mining. This exhibition boasts the largest display of a native silver ore in the world, and has a variety of historical artifacts, photographs and mineral samples on display. A trip this museum pairs nicely with a trek along the Cobalt Heritage Silver Trail, which many visitors consider the highlight of their trip. Take a self-guided tour along this well-preserved piece of history for a glimpse into this region’s formative past, all set amongst pristine greenery and nature.

After scoping out the beauty of the foliage, grab a bite at Gilli’s Truck Stop & Restaurant. At this no-frills eatery, every meal feels home cooked. Enjoy Canadian comfort food for breakfast, lunch, dinner at this local favorite. After a long day of autumnal adventures, tuck yourself into Waterfront Inn, a tastefully appointed inn serving up northern hospitality. The inn is located near Lake Temiskaming’s downtown area, where you can stroll along the boardwalk at night and grab a drink or two before the day’s end.

Winter in Cochrane

When the colder months come around, there’s no reason to hide inside. Northeastern Ontario is known for having an abundance of snow, making it a great location for skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing in the winter. Cochrane is a landmark winter destination, beloved by both locals and tourists alike, for its many fun activities and beautiful scenery.

Be sure to check out the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat, the only facility in the world dedicated exclusively to the care and preservation of polar bears. Visitors can chat with the habitat’s Animal Care team, observe the bears in an Arctic enclosure pool, and learn more about this unique species in one of the many informational exhibits. Spend a night in Cochrane at Best Western Swan Castle Inn, then hop on the Polar Bear Express in the morning for a scenic railroad ride further up north into Moosonee. The farther north you travel, the more vivid the northern lights are at night, so if you’re in Northeastern Ontario a winter getaway up in the north is a must. 

Then head south to embrace the cold and hit the slopes in Timmins, Northeastern Ontario’s landmark winter sports destination just an hour from Cochrane. Mount Jamieson Resort is one popular place to visit, which offers glade skiing, steep skiing, cliffs, and much more. There are plenty of easy runs and tubing for beginners, and lessons for anyone looking to brush up their skills before hitting the slopes. 

After a long day on the trails, make sure you grab a bite at Radical Gardens, one of the most beloved restaurants in Timmins. With a new, health-centric menu every week and plenty of local beer options available to try, Radical Gardens has an interesting offering no matter what you crave. (And if you’re lucky, you can even catch their food truck while you’re in Northeastern Ontario.

Summer, winter, spring, or fall, there’s never a bad time to visit Northeastern Ontario. For more tips for exploring this phenomenal region, read our Northeastern Ontario Travel Guide.

About Northeastern Ontario Tourism

Whether planning a fun-filled family road trip, a quick weekend expedition, or a romantic getaway, Northeastern Ontario is undeniably BIG and unbelievably close.

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